Council’s Final Report Offers Recommendations for Expanding Cross-Sector Community Collaboratives to Solve Local Challenges

Jun 4, 2012

Live White House webcast – TODAY, June 4, 1:15 – 2:30pm ET: Tune in for the opening of the White House Summit on Community Solutions for Disconnected Youth. Speakers will include First Lady Michelle Obama (by video) and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, as well as a discussion on expanding successful cross-sector community collaborations. Visit:

For Immediate Release - White House Council for Community Solutions
Monday, June 4, 2012
Contact: Aimee Segal
202-329-5282, cell
 Ranit Schmelzer

Council's Final Report Offers Recommendations for
Expanding Cross-Sector Community Collaboratives to Solve Local Challenges

Collaboratives Offer Potential to Unite Citizens and Create Economic Opportunity for Young People

Washington, D.C. – The White House Council for Community Solutions (the Council) today presented its final report and recommendations for how all Americans – across all sectors – can work together to address key community challenges and create real, systemic change for youth who are out of school and work, and for their communities. View the final report, Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth, here.

During today's White House Summit on Community Solutions for Disconnected Youth, Council members and leaders from a range of local and national non-profit, philanthropic, business, government, and national service organizations gathered to discuss the recommendations and learn about innovative community-developed initiatives that are connecting young people to critical education and employment opportunities.

Through collaboration, community leaders are reaching across sector lines to pool their resources, unite around common goals, and use data continually to understand progress and adapt their work. In learning more about the most effective community collaboratives, the Council chose to apply its findings toward expanding opportunity for youth who are not connected to learning and work.

At least 6.7 million young people (ages 16-24) – or one in six youth – are unemployed and not in school. The scale of this issue makes addressing it compelling and urgent: Columbia University/Queens College, CUNY researchers estimate that taxpayers shouldered $93 billion in 2011 in direct and indirect costs to support these youth. You can view that analysis here.

While these young people are commonly referred to as disconnected youth, the Council identified them “opportunity youth” because of the untapped potential they offer.

“Across the country, citizens and local leaders are combining their resources to achieve needle-moving change on a range of complex issues – from reducing violence to increasing graduation rates – and changing what's possible for their communities,” said Patty Stonesifer, chair of the Council. “By applying the same focus and discipline toward supporting opportunity youth, we can dramatically change the trajectory of their lives, as well as our economy and society.”

Conversations with more than 350 youth and community leaders across the country confirmed what the Council learned through research: opportunity youth have energy and aspirations, and they recognize their responsibility to develop solutions with local leaders that improve their lives, benefit their communities, and help youth nationwide.

Council research also confirmed that to effectively address the needs of opportunity youth, national and community initiatives must embody three fundamental principles: (1) young people themselves are key to the solution; (2) all sectors must unite around a common goal to address the challenge at hand; and (3) policies and funding must be data-driven to ensure limited resources are invested wisely.

The Council's recommendations aim to help the U.S. significantly reduce the number of opportunity youth and make even more substantial progress toward putting all young people on a path to prosperity. These recommendations focus on four critical areas:

  1. Strategy One: Drive the Development of Cross-Sector Community Collaboratives that use a common approach and embody a core set of characteristics to solve a range of social issues, including supporting opportunity youth.
  2. Strategy Two: Create Shared National Responsibility and Accountability for Opportunity Youth by coordinating and sharing rigorous data to shine a national spotlight on who these young people are, what they need, and what they are capable of doing.
  3. Strategy Three: Engage Youth as Leaders in the Solution to ensure that we are creating and supporting relevant, high quality, and increasingly effective programs and resources for opportunity youth.
  4. Strategy Four: Build More Robust On-Ramps for Employment for Opportunity Youth that are designed to meet the needs of communities and young people by linking education and training to local jobs.

During today's Summit, several national organizations announced new efforts to expand the growth and success of collaboratives to help opportunity youth bridge to education, a successful career and civic engagement. Some highlights include:

  • Opportunity Nation (ON), a broad coalition of nearly 250 cross-sector partners united around a bipartisan plan to create better skills, better jobs, and better communities will (1) launch an updated, interactive version of A Toolkit for Employers: Connecting Youth and Business, in partnership with Gap, Inc., including step-by-step planning tools to support youth training; (2) work with Columbia University to ensure that national data from The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth is localized as much as possible; and (3) create a Road Map for Opportunity Youth action plan for the public and private sectors to help connect at least one million opportunity youth with education and employment.
  • The SparkOpportunity Challenge is a crowd-sourcing competition for young people to propose their own visionary – yet viable solutions to create jobs, build and enhance skills, and bring about real change for opportunity youth. Winners will receive seed grants and technology to support their project launch, along with additional fundraising, mentoring and communications support. The Challenge is an initiative of SparkAction, Youth Leadership Institute, and dozens of leading youth-engagement organizations across the country.
  • The Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University, with support from AT&T, will initiate a multi-sector collaborative through the Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative to create an infrastructure of effective, sustainable, and meaningful services and programs that increase the number of New Orleans youth who are prepared for college, careers, and civic engagement.
  • Family Independence Initiative Torchlight Prize will award funding each year to four informally-organized groups of low-income citizens who engage and reconnect youth to the larger community without affiliation with an organization offering programs, services, or philanthropic funding.
  • The Aspen Institute intends to launch the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, and the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund to spotlight communities that are successfully pulling together to move the needle on a community challenge, providing national and local leaders with the knowledge, tools and resources needed to launch a successful needle-moving collaborative, especially those focused on reconnecting opportunity youth to school and work.

    To learn more about the collaboratives that achieved progress on community-wide issues and the attributes they share, download the Community Collaboratives toolbox here.

Established by President Obama by Executive Order in December 2010, the Council has worked to identify, encourage growth, and maximize the impact of cross-sector community initiatives that engage all citizens to help solve our nation's most serious problems. Find out more about Council members and process here.

Media Contact

Samantha Jo Warfield
(202) 491-8250

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